There are three primary types of distracted driving:
- Visual: not looking at the road or the vehicles around you.
- Manual: not keeping your hands on the wheel.
- Cognitive: not keeping your focus on the task of safe driving.
You cannot drive safely unless you’re completely focused on the task of driving. An example that proves this point is texting while driving, which is something that most of us are guilty of doing.
On average, it takes about five seconds to send or read a text. That’s five seconds during which your eyes are not focused on the road. If you’re driving on the freeway at the very reasonable speed of 55 mph, that’s comparable to closing your eyes while driving across the entire length of a football field.
Using your cell phone while driving in the state of California is both dangerous and illegal. You cannot drive while holding a cell phone in your hand for any reason. You can only use your phone in a hands-free manner. Under no circumstances can you ever hold a phone in your hand while driving. It’s worth mentioning that all drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone for any reason.
COMMON EXAMPLES OF DISTRACTED DRIVING
1) SMOKING RELATED ACTIVITY: SMOKING WHILE DRIVING IS PARTICULARLY RISKY AS IT MEANS THAT FOR A FEW SECONDS BOTH HANDS ARE NO LONGER ON THE WHEEL. SOME PEOPLE ARE SEASONED PROS, BUT LIGHTING A CIGARETTE STILL TAKES A MOMENT. YOUR ATTENTION WILL NOT BE COMPLETELY ON THE ROAD THROUGHOUT THAT TIME. THIS DISTRACTION WILL NECESSARILY REDUCE THE TIME YOU HAVE TO REACT TO SUDDEN CHANGES IN TRAFFIC CONDITIONS OR EMERGENCIES.
2) Eating or Drinking: Eating in the car can be a lot of fun, but reaching into that container of steaming hot fries means you’re unnecessarily distracted for a few seconds, or maybe more, depending on the severity of your appetite.
3) Other Occupants in the Vehicle: One of the most common instances of distracted driving is talking with or looking at the other passengers in your car. Engaging in a particularly emotional or difficult conversation can only increase your level of distraction. There might be a crying child or an upset puppy in the backseat, but your focus must be on the road in front of you at all times.
5) Looking at Something Outside the Car: People are notorious for their curiosity and short attention spans. Anytime we see something shiny, novel, or interesting by the side of the road we may feel curious enough to want to take a closer look. This is known as rubbernecking. Whether you’re taking your eyes off the road to stare at the aftermath of a car accident or to briefly check out a lovely jogger, doing so will create an unnecessary distraction.
6) Daydreaming: Thinking about the evening’s dinner plans or the unruly kids back home means you’re mind is everywhere but where it needs to be. Not being entirely present with the reality of the road unfolding in front of you is dangerous, and it will take longer for you to react to sudden changes in road conditions or emergencies.